Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | December 02, 2002

The best media money can buy

I don't want this latest Krugman column to get lost in the Thanksgiving holiday Sale circulars.

The handful of organizations that supply most people with their news have major commercial interests that inevitably tempt them to slant their coverage, and more generally to be deferential to the ruling party. There have already been some peculiar examples of news not reported. For example, last month's 100,000-strong Washington antiwar demonstration — an important event, whatever your views on the issue — was almost ignored by some key media outlets.

For the time being, blatant media bias is still limited by old rules and old norms of behavior. But soon the rules will be abolished, and the norms are eroding before our eyes.

Do the conflicts of interest of our highly concentrated media constitute a threat to democracy? I've reported; you decide.

I am a free speech near-absolutist, and can't begrudge the conservatives for their Limbaughs and Fox "news". The right recognized years ago that the mainstream media skewed left, and that the college campuses were controlled by liberal academics. So, they did the smart thing and put their vast cash reserves to good use: they founded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation to offset the more liberal campuses, took over AM radio, and in their coup de grace, established Fox News as their flagship propaganda outfit. Brilliant, all of it.

Krugman's point is this: can Democracy be served if networks can buy each other. The implication is that Murdoch can buy NBC or CBS and we can say adios to another legitimately unbiased news source. And once media companies start buying each other, the deepest pockets will win.

And who has the deepest pockets? Tell you what, we won't find them in a union household.

Print media is in serious decline. And while the Internet allows shmucks like me to rant and rave, it means little in the end: sites like this one are pretty worthless in the greater scheme of things. Whoever controls television controls the nation's minds.

So what's the solution? Not government regulation. Quite simply, the Republicans in power have no interest in slowing their increasing domination of the airwaves. Rather, the money interests in the nation's left need to fight back.

In the wake of historic Republican victories on Election Day that many Democrats blame on their party’s lack of a clear message, Democratic lawmakers and consultants are calling for stronger liberal think tanks.

They say the party must find a counterweight to what they call the vast and well-funded infrastructure of conservative ideology.


Party allies even entertained the possibility of a liberal television network to offset Fox News, which they view as an adjunct of the Republican Party.

And, to finance all of this, Democrats seem to be looking at billionaire George Soros for help.

Whether any of this will come to pass is anyone's guess, but it's something Democrats need to seriously consider. The GOP has hit on a winning formula, and the Dems need to emulate them, lest their message get crowded out in our "marketplace of ideas" -- a marketplace increasingly carrying only one ideological flavor.

Posted December 02, 2002 04:19 PM | Comments (26)


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